Friday, June 27, 2014



Huntsville, Tennessee (JFK+50)  Former Tennessee Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr.,* known as the "Great Conciliator" of the United States Senate, died at his home here in Huntsville yesterday, June 26, 2014, at the age of 88.

Although he lost in his first attempt for the Senate in 1964, Senator Baker, described by CNN as... "a towering political figure in Washington," won two years later becoming..."the first popularly elected Republican senator from Tennessee in United States history."

A graduate of the University of Tennessee School of Law, Howard Baker was Vice-Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Watergate, Majority Leader 1981-1985, Chief of Staff for President Ronald Reagan 1987-88, and Ambassador to Japan under President George W. Bush.

Universally, Senator Baker was known for his ability to bring lawmakers together to resolve issues which divided them.  Today, in an age where discord in Washington seems to be common, a man like Howard Baker would sure be welcome.

Current Tennessee Senator Bob Corker said...

"When I think of the ultimate statesman, the very first person who comes to my mind is Howard Baker."

Bust of Senator Howard Baker, Jr.
Howard Baker Center for Public Policy
Knoxville, Tennessee 
Photo by John White (2013)

Howard Baker died of complications from a stroke he suffered last week.  The body will lie in state from 11 to 4 p.m. Monday, June 30, in the rotunda of the Howard Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy on the campus of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Yesterday, Governor Bill Haslam ordered Tennessee flags lowered to half-staff.

Funeral services will take place on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at the First Presbyterian Church here in Huntsville. 


"A patriot who made Tennesseans proud," by Michael Collins, Knoxville News-Sentinel, June 27, 2014,

"Former Senator Howard Baker Dies," by Paul Steinhauser,

"'The ultimate statesman'", by Fred Brown, Knoxville News-Sentinel, June 27,  2014,

*Howard Henry Baker, Jr. (1925-2014) was born on November 15, 1925 in Huntsville, TN.  He attended McCallie School, served in the US Navy during WWII, and studied electrical engineering at the University of the South in Sewanne, TN. and Tulane University.  

HHB graduated from the University of Tennessee School of Law in 1949.  He served 3 terms in the US Senate from 1967-1985.  He is perhaps best known for his service as Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Watergate during which he asked the question "What did the President (Nixon) know and when did he know it?"


As a Tennessean, I was so proud of Howard Baker, Jr. representing my state in the Senate.  To meet him in June 2005 as one of the teachers in the Baker Center's week long workshop "Teaching Congress and the Presidency" was a great honor.

After lunch on the opening day of the workshop at the University of Tennessee School of Law, I sat beside Senator Baker as we were being shown a video which highlighted the Senator's career.  

At one point something went wrong with the technology and the video stopped. The narrator, Fred Thompson, had just been speaking about Senator Baker's role in the passage of the controversial Panama Canal Treaty.   Howard Baker turned to me and said quietly, "They would have to stop it right here!" 

He obviously possessed some of JFK's self-deprecating humor and also that human touch that was part of his charm.

Thank you Senator Baker for your service to our nation.  We will miss you.

Following are some of the photographs I took at during an Open House celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Baker Center.

The Senator was scheduled to appear but his health wouldn't allow it.

Senator Baker's Desk
HH Baker, Jr. Center
Knoxville, Tennessee
Photo by John White
September 4, 2013

Senator Baker's Display Case
HH Baker, Jr. Center
Knoxville, Tennessee
Photo by John White
September 4, 2013

JFK with Congressman HH Baker, Sr.
Photo on Display at 
the Baker Center